If you have been bitten by a dog, one of the first things your lawyer will do is gather key witnesses who can testify in court, if necessary. While Washington State holds the dog’s owner liable for dog bite injuries, proving liability is often easier said than done. Without witness testimony, your personal injury case becomes a matter of your word against the owner. If the owner falsely claims that you somehow caused the incident, witness accounts may be the only available evidence to prove the owner wrong.
The good news is that an attorney experienced in dog bite cases will be able to procure several witnesses to bolster your case, even if no one else was there to see the incident when it occurred. Let’s talk about the different types of witnesses you might call in a dog bite case and why they are so important to helping you get the settlement you deserve.
Common Witnesses in Dog Bite Cases
Effective witness testimony can come from several different sources, each of which can provide a piece of key evidence for your case. Here are a few examples.
If anyone observed the attack besides you and the owner, their testimony could be extremely helpful to your case. In Washington State, eyewitness testimony accounts for many successful personal injury claims, especially when there is no conclusive physical evidence to back up an argument. For example, if your injuries aren’t so specific that only a dog bite could have caused them, and the other side tries to claim the dog didn’t cause those injuries, an eyewitness account could refute that argument. Eyewitnesses can also be helpful in cases where a defendant is falsely claiming that you did something to provoke the animal or that you were trespassing on their property.
An attorney experienced with dog bites has access to various dog experts who can provide insight on animal behavior (a key component in determining liability) as well as examining forensic photographs to verify dog bite injuries. Examples of dog experts might include:
- Canine behavioral experts. Since a dog’s temperament doesn’t change, these experts can shed light on the animal’s temperament and why it may have acted in a certain way.
- Veterinarians. Not only can a vet give general insight on the temperament of that dog breed, but if your attorney locates the vet who treats the dog in question, that vet can provide evidence on that specific dog’s medical history and temperament.
- Breeders. If the dog involved in your case is a breed known for aggressive tendencies, finding a local breeder can help establish that fact.
- Animal shelter workers. Animal shelters often maintain records of dogs brought into their facilities—including temperament tests and behavior evaluations used to determine suitability in adoptive homes. Those records may prove invaluable when trying to obtain damages.
- Animal control. Animal control officers will often be familiar with certain dog breeds and whether they are deemed dangerous or potentially aggressive. Local personnel can also testify as to the prior history of the specific dog in question.
Witness testimony from medical professionals can help verify whether there is physical evidence that a dog caused those injuries, as well as give indications as to what healthcare costs you may have going forward. Therapists can also give testimony as to the psychological trauma of a dog bite and how it may affect your quality of life.
Vocational Experts and Economists
Finally, vocational experts and economists can testify whether your injuries should prevent you from doing your job (and for how long), as well as providing estimates on how much income you are expected to lose as a result of the injuries.
Why Witness Testimony Is So Important to Dog Bite Cases
Put simply, witnesses are critical in dog bite cases because they can help establish facts that physical evidence cannot. You were there when the incident occurred—but what you experienced isn’t always enough to win a case without additional support testimony from eyewitnesses and experts. When it’s your word against that of the defendant, the witnesses your attorney puts forth can break the impasse and prove that you deserve the damages you’re asking for.
The legal team at Max Meyers Law has extensive experience with dog bite injury cases, and we know how to find the right witnesses to prove your case. Contact our offices to schedule a free consultation or call us at 425-399-7000.